The US Open-winning pair of Graeme McDowell and Lucas Glover have expressed their surprise that Padraig Harrington is not exempt for next month's Masters.
Harrington needs to win either this week's Valero Texas Open or next week's Shell Houston Open to end a 14-year unbroken appearance at Augusta National. Since making his Masters debut in 2000, Harrington - a triple major winner - has missed just one of the intervening 56 majors, and that was the 2005 Open when his father passed away.
McDowell has spoken often of the inspiration Harrington provided when the Dubliner won three of the six majors from July 2007 to August 2008, and how that helped him to victory in the 2010 US Open.
"It's just crazy that as this stage Padraig won't be at Augusta and that there's another standout player in Retief Goosen who also won't be there," said McDowell. "It's hard to imagine those two guys not yet in the Masters and it just shows how volatile this sport is, and how it doesn't take much mediocre golf before you start dropping down the rankings and not qualifying."
Harrington contested the final round of Sunday's Arnold Palmer Invitational in the company of Glover, who captured the 2009 US Open. "It's always fun playing with Padraig and we've known each other for a long time, and I love playing with him and I love watching him but it wasn't his best day," said Glover, which was something of an understatement given Harrington produced a round of 80 to equal his worst score in 724 PGA Tour starts.
"But then the best thing about Padraig is he never gets mad or gets down on himself, unlike a lot of guys here who would have had an effect on me if they had shot 80. Padraig didn't react and, in fact, he was pumping me up to go lower and keeping me loose.
"But I thought about the fact during our round as to whether or not he's into the Masters . . . and I sort of worked out he wasn't and I couldn't think of a way he could have qualified given he's run out of exemptions, so I didn't push the subject. But knowing now he's not going to be there is is hard to believe."
Another big miss could be Tiger Woods, who is carrying a back injury and was non-committal yesterday when asked about his chances of making the Masters. The 14-time major champion said: "For Augusta, it's still a little too soon [to know]. That's kind of the frustrating thing about this. I had a couple weeks off and was getting treatment but as of right now, it's still too soon."